July 25, 2011

TRAVELIN' MAINE(RS): GET SOME EXERCISE:Take a hike on the Maine Beer and Wine Trails

Kennebec Journal Staff

The Travelin Maine(rs), George and Linda Smith of Mount Vernon, have spent their lifetimes enjoying all that Maine has to offer. Now they’ll tell you all about it — their favorite inns, restaurants, trips, activities, experiences, and travel books and websites — in their own personal style.
They’ll be offering anecdotes, tips and all the details you need. So join them in exploring, experiencing and enjoying the great state of Maine.

click image to enlarge

IF YOU GO . . .

Josh’s beer blog is found at www.joshsbeerblog.blogspot.com. His July 11 post includes ratings for the Penobscot Bay beers he tasted.
Maine Beer Trail maps and participating breweries are at www.mainebrewersguild.org. You’ll also see information about the July 30 Craft Beer Festival at the Boothbay Resort.
To hike the Maine Wine Trail, you’ll find maps and participating wineries at www.mainewinetrail.com.
Mainely Meat BBQ: 288-9200.
Shipyard Brewery: www.shipyard.com
86 Newbury Street, Portland, 1-800-brew-ale
Tours every day on the hour from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. and Tuesday nights 5:30 to 7 p.m by online reservation.
Bar Harbor Brewery: www.atlanticbrewery.com
288-4592. Tours all summer at 2, 3, and 4 p.m.
Kennebec River Brewery: www.northernoutdoors.com
1-877-235-6497. Tours anytime.


The best hikes in Maine are on the Maine Beer Trail. And you don't need hiking boots!

Our state has gone from a wasteland to a wonderland of beer brewing. We've established an international reputation for finely crafted beers and many brew masters welcome you into their facilities for tours and tastings.

The Maine Brewers Guild provides maps and a list of brewery tours including days and hours. Some of the breweries include restaurants. Prizes are awarded if you visit 5, 10 or all 25 breweries on the trail. As if you needed any incentive.

Today's column includes a piece by our son Joshua Smith, who works for My Brothers Keeper, serving the poor in Brockton, Massachusetts. We're very proud of Josh, especially for his commitment to public service. He is also a home-brewer and writer with his own beer blog, and we're stealing a piece he wrote after visiting the Penobscot Bay Brewery in Winterport, also the site of the very fine Winterport Winery.


During those cold winter months, many hunker down and put on a warm mug of cocoa. I decided to go the other way with it. Since 2008, I have rounded up a few friends, driven to northern Maine, and enjoyed a few cold beers.

Previous destinations included Ebenezer's Pub, Oak Pond Brewing, Bray's Brew Pub, Great Lost Bear, Seadog Brew Pub and Shipyard Brewing. The road less-traveled I guess.

This year, on our way to a University of Maine hockey game in Orono, I arranged for a visit to Penobscot Bay Brewery in Winterport, operated by Mike and Joan Anderson who also own Winterport Winery.

They were kind enough to invite us for a tour despite being officially closed for the winter. It's a very nice facility with kitchen, tasting room, gift shop, winery and brewery -- all overlooking the Penobscot River.

This small brewery opened in 2009. Mike gave us a very entertaining tour, tracing each piece of brewing equipment back through its previous owners. While the room had the feel of a garage, I was impressed with how well-organized and clean the whole operation was.

Needless to say, Mike isn't haphazardly throwing handfuls of chipotle peppers into the brew pot like I do when home brewing.

The tasting room is simply beautiful, with shelves jammed with fruit wines, winery merchandise and local Maine products. They even sell Bay Brew Ice Cream, made with their own Half Moon Stout! My stout float was indescribable.

On tap were their Old Factory Whistle Scottish Ale, Stout and Wheat and Brown Ale. It made for a very enjoyable and tasty afternoon. Because you can only get Penobscot Bay's beers in Maine, this is a great stop on any beer trip.


Shipyard dominates Maine's microbrewing industry, so it's no surprise they their Portland facility offers the best tour, complete with a video, tour of the bottling process and tastings of my favorite Shipyard beers (be sure to try the Pugsley series). To get inside the huge brewery itself, reserve a space online for their Tuesday-night tour.

Bar Harbor Brewing Company produces one of my all-time favorites, Cadillac Mountain Stout, so Linda and I stopped by the brewery for a tour during our June visit to Bar Harbor. There's not a lot to see in a brewery, so a good tour guide is essential.

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